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Playing Middle Pair Cautiously, Then Seeking Value With Backdoor Flush

Playing Middle Pair Cautiously, Then Seeking Value With Backdoor Flush
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  • A marginal made hand backs into a big one on the river, and @JonathanLittle goes for value.

  • @JonathanLittle flops middle pair and plays cautiously, then gets lucky by backdooring a flush.

Today's hand is a deep-stacked tournament hand in which the effective stacks were 100 big blinds. It's one in which I flop middle pair and play middle pair as I should — that is, cautiously. Then I get lucky to back into a much stronger hand with which I looked for big value.

The blinds were 200/400 with a 25 ante, and it folded to me in the lojack seat where I had been dealt {J-Diamonds}{10-Diamonds}. When it's deep-stacked like this I often will open for about 3x, though here I raised just over 2.5x (1,050) which is fine.

It folded to the button where a player raised to 2,800. I had about 80,000 to begin the hand and he had about 40,000, so the effective stacks were 100 BB. The blinds stepped aside and I called, meaning the pot was 6,650 when the flop came {Q-Hearts}{J-Clubs}{5-Diamonds}.

With this marginal made hand, I'm looking to check-call most of the time, but after I checked my opponent checked behind.

The turn brought the {3-Diamonds}, giving me a flush draw. I could have bet, but I checked once more and this time my opponent bet 3,000. I made the very easy call, then got there when the {A-Diamonds} came on the river.

There was 13,650 in the middle. I could have led with a bet here. In fact, may people do in this spot. But I prefer checking because it's hard to get paid by leading after such a river card. Checking also gives my opponent an opportunity to bluff, which he should be doing a decent amount of time.

Take a look and see what my opponent decided to do and how things turned out, and listen as well to my analysis along the way:

Whenever you make a backdoor flush like this, you definitely want to raise which is what I did. Note as well my sizing with the river check-raise — an amount less than his total remaining stack that he can conceivably call.

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,700,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at JonathanLittlePoker.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

Have you ever wanted to write your own articles about poker? Maybe you've got some experiences or opinions about poker that you'd like to share. PokerNews is proud to launch The PN Blog where you can have a platform to make your voice heard. Learn more here.

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